As a business analyst at the beginning of a project there are many unknowns. The scope has been defined, but I don't know much about the stakeholders and what their requirements will be. I might have an idea about the deliverables I will be producing, but I am still weeks away from knowing the complexity of those documents. Using my experience I can create a Business Analysis Work Plan that will provide structure and consistency for the work I am doing.

One of the sessions I attended last month at the Building Business Capability 2012 conference was titled "Getting the BA Work Plan to Work for You". The presenter was Jennifer Battan. I do not have much experience with BA Work Plans so I was interested in picking up a new tool that could help me in my work. According to the BABOK a work plan is "A description of the planned activities that the business analyst will execute in order to perform the business analysis work involved in a specific initiative." For those familiar with PMBOK terms it is similar to a work breakdown structure. However, this focuses on just the tasks the business analyst will perform. Many times on a project plan the PM will just list the major deliverables. Have a BA work plan will give the analyst a more detailed list of tasks.

As I stated in the opening of this post, the complexity of the BA tasks for a particular project may not be known until weeks into a project. However, most of the tasks are the same regardless of the type and complexity of the project. As a BA I will perform stakeholder analysis, interview stakeholders and document requirements. Also using experience from past projects will allow me to estimate the number of hours each task will take. The work plan will be a great tool throughout the project as I track the BA tasks that myself and other team members are doing. Having the plan will also allow us to see how impacting one task will impact other downstream tasks too. Some other benefits of the work plan that Ms. Battan mentioned were that it establishes credibility within the team and encourages accountability for the Business Analyst.

One bonus of the work plan that Ms. Battan mentioned is that many times the PM in a project will use her work plan as the starting point for the project plan. This allowed her to set her own schedule and provide adequate time to do the necessary tasks to succeed. Coming out of this session I was excited for my next project where I will be able to use a BA work plan. I can already see how it will provide value and that value will only increase with experience as I am better able to estimate my time and required tasks.